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OECD Secretary-General Discusses Greening Spain’s Energy Sector

4 May 2011: Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), delivered a speech on greening Spain's economy for the 25th Anniversary of the Spanish Energy Club, which took place in Madrid, Spain, on 4 May 2011.

Gurría spoke broadly about energy insecurity and the need to shift to renewable sources of energy. He provided an overview of Spain's efforts towards energy diversification and the use of clean energies, and described the structural challenges faced by Spain. He also formulated three recommendations on how to go further and promote a more efficient and green energy sector, calling for: carbon emissions to be appropriately priced; subsidies on the consumption and production of fossil fuels to be dismantled; and innovation in renewables needs to be better incentivized.

He underscored that energy insecurity has been spurred by the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, political and social uprising in the Middle East, and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. He discussed the interconnectedness of energy markets with all aspects of modern society, highlighting the 36% rise in international food prices between March 2010 and March 2011, which he said was partly a result of rising oil prices.

Noting the negative impacts of climate change and unsustainable production and consumption patterns, Gurría stressed the urgency to act, highlighting that "we cannot procrastinate any longer, because the less we do now, the more expensive and difficult, if not impossible, it will be to act later." He added that International Energy Agency (IEA) figures show that a 17% increase in investments in low-carbon energy systems between now and 2050 would produce a cumulative US$112 billion in fuel savings, and bring down greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions dramatically.

Gurría commended, among others, Spain's use of renewables to date, with 35% of energy demand met through renewables in 2010, and the progress on the Iberian common electricity market with Portugal (the MIBEL). He concluded by discussing the OECD's readiness to help Spain promote a green energy sector, especially through the forthcoming Green Growth Strategy, to be presented at the OECD's upcoming Ministerial Council Meeting, which aims to provide a frame of reference for policies that can reconcile growth with the conservation of natural resources. [OECD Press Release] [OECD's 50th Anniversary Forum and Ministerial Council Meeting Website]